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Environment


Senator leading a renewwable energy mandate freeze finally speaks up
Sen. Troy Balderson of Zanesville says the law needs to be put on hold while it's studied and changed 
by WKSU's STATEHOUSE BUREAU CHIEF KAREN KASLER


Reporter
Karen Kasler
 
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In The Region:

There’s been a lot of debate over a new bill that would halt the six-year old law that established alternative energy standards for Ohio’s utility companies. That law requires 25% of Ohio’s electricity come from alternative or renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar, by 2025. '

But one person who hasn’t spoken much about the energy standards “freeze” bill is its sponsor, Sen. Troy Balderson. But the Republican of Zanesville did sit down to talk about it with Statehouse correspondent Karen Kasler, who started by asking him if it really would “freeze” those standards till after a task force studies them, or if it would do as its critics claim – repeal them.

LISTEN: Balderson talks energy freeze bill

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"To freeze, and that's what we're trying, that is the message we're trying to convey," Balderson said. "It is a freeze. We're not shutting windmills down. We are not shutting contracts off. We are holding at level where we are right now for 2014 so we can do the study."

"Is there a guarantee that we'd come back to the energy standards next year the year after that?" Ingles asked.

"There is a guarantee that we're going to come back after the study," Balderson said. "What that study bring will be the proposal that we'll move forward with once the study is done."

"How does this differ from Senator Seitz's bill which got so much controversy last year?" Ingles asked

"I worked with Sen. Seitz on that bill, a lot of that bill," Balderson said. "If there's one thing we learned through that whole process and that's kind of why we're doing it a little differently this time, is that Senate Bill 58 had unanswered questions from both sides. They're very controversial. The numbers just aren't there. It's pro or it's con. So we felt by doing it differently this way, and doing a freeze, take a time out, study what we have. Look into Senate Bill 221. Look at the numbers. Look at the different economics that have gone on out there and taken place and changes."

"You say the numbers don't add up or the numbers aren't there, so why does the law need changed?" Ingles asked. "Is that what you're talking about when you say the numbers aren't there?"

"The law doesn't necessarily need changed, but it needs to be maybe reworked is the word for it," Balderson said. "Small business owners do this all the time. They make decisions. They make business plans. They go back and change those business plans sometimes. The business plan may not be going to the customer satisfaction rating that they may like, they're going to go back in. They're going to reevaluate it. We are freezing the plan right now and we are going to sit back and reevaluate it."
 
Balderson says he feels the energy standards are costing utilities and ratepayers more than the benefits they’re getting from them. If the bill passes, a 21-member task force would study the energy standards for at least a year. The energy standards freeze bill is likely to be a priority for lawmakers when they return from spring break.

You can hear more from Sen. Balderson about his bill, and other reaction to it, on “The State of Ohio” on PBS stations this weekend.

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